A member of Sisters Uncut writes about their May Day action coming up this bank holiday Monday
The crisis facing domestic violence services across the UK is one key issue that has been largely overlooked in the run-up to the election. After five years of Tory austerity, hundreds of refuges have suffered cuts, closures and overcrowding at unprecedented levels.
The need for these services is growing: the amount of women who have experienced domestic violence in the UK has recently shot up from one in four to one in three. An average of two women a week are now dying at the hands of a current partner or ex-partner. As rates of domestic violence soar, women’s services crumble.
This still isn’t enough to make Westminster pay attention to women’s safety. None of the major parties have pledged to safeguard domestic violence services. Instead they will continue with the current ideological austerity programme, hitting women and women’s services hardest.
Sisters Uncut is committed to turning this around by calling for the restoration of all public funding cut from domestic violence services. We reject the trend of cheaper non-specialist services replacing specialist providers, leaving vulnerable women in the hands of staff with no formal training.
We reject the racist “no recourse to public funds” policy that prevents minority women without secure immigration status from accessing safe spaces. We reject the cuts to legal aid that have stopped abused women from accessing legal support. Urgent action is needed to stem the rising tide of preventable traumas, injuries and deaths.
Next week, our day of direct action will take place on the 4 May bank holiday Monday. “May Day” is the international term to signal a life-threatening emergency, which is exactly what these cuts to funding are. This day has also long been used to celebrate and demand rights for workers. Sisters Uncut believe that the liberation of workers must include the liberation of women, and proudly march on this day as a reminder of our interconnected struggles.
On our march we welcome all those who identify as women, as well as trans, intersex and nonbinary people. We aim to create a safe atmosphere and showcase the power of women united together, reclaiming space both physically and vocally that is so often denied to us. Male allies can help by spreading the word far and wide on social media, and by facilitating their sisters to go in any way they can.
We will meet at the Scoop in central London at 1pm and head towards a place of special significance with regards to our demands. We encourage sisters to bring a note or memento in remembrance of an abused woman, to hang on a giant communal wreath that we will then carry with us to our destination. Be ready to move and make some noise.
We need as many voices as we can to let those in power know; your cuts are sexist, your cuts are dangerous, and you think that you can get away with them because you have targeted the people who you perceive as powerless. We are those people, we are women, and we will not be silenced. See you on the streets!